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For more than three decades after its independence from France, Ivory Coast was known for its religious and ethnic harmony, as well as its well-developed economy.
The Western African country was hailed as a model of stability. But an armed rebellion in 2002 split the nation in two. Since then, peace deals have alternated with renewed violence as the country has slowly edged its way towards a political resolution of the conflict.
Despite the instability, Ivory Coast is the world's largest exporter of cocoa beans and its citizens enjoy a relatively high level of income, compared to other countries in the region.
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The Republic of Ivory Coast
Population 20.6 million
Area 322,462 sq km (124,503 sq miles)
Major languages French, indigenous languages
Major religions Islam, Christianity, indigenous beliefs
Life expectancy 55 years (men), 58 years (women)
Currency CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc